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The Positive Impact of Nepali ‘Mass Alzheimer’

December 01, 2011

As a country with the highest per-capita agreements per year, the political parties signed yet another seven point agreement. Not only the common citizen, but perhaps leaders of the political parties have also lost count of the agreements they are signing. It is like the great Nepali company that keeps on signing MOU with different international and domestic companies and they lose track of how many MOUs they have signed or like the senior office bearers of our multiple chambers who do not actually know how many committees they sit in.


The debate is whether mass Alzheimer is good or bad. Yes, it is bad as we forget that there were 14,000 people who were killed in the ten years of insurgency, bad because we forget how our movements have been freer when we are not intercepted by multitudes of barricades, bad because we forget what was the state of the people and the nation ten years ago and how much it has changed. Bestselling international author Patrick French, who was here in Nepal for a couple of days could not believe things have changed so much on the ground since he last came to cover the royal massacre a decade back. Several old Nepal friends, who decided to get back to trekking after more than a decade, find that yes, Kathmandu has changed into another Southasian metropolis, but even outside Kathmandu, so much change is visible, be it construction or way people clad themselves.


Yes, things are changing. Unnoticed in an academic study, Nepali youths are aping the South Korean fashion models, eating more of Korean food and loving to drink Sojo. Korean movies, soap operas are as popular as Bollywood movies and soap operas aired out of Indian satellite channels. Nepali children speak Hindi as the cartoon channels on TV are broadcasted in Hindi because the cable companies decided to air the cheaper Hindi broadcast than the more expensive English ones. The impact and usage of social media is increasing at a rapid pace. When Google launched their Facebook competitor Google Plus, after US, India and Sri Lanka, Nepal was ranked fourth in number of users in the first week. Korean restaurants in Thamel provide an hour of Karaoke and meal free for Facebook users who get highest likes on their status within a stipulated time. Bryan Adams and MLTR performed to a packed audience. Each month is seeing a literary event and in September, the Kathmandu Literary Jatra got fifteen international authors and more than fifty Nepali authors together. There are more art exhibitions to attend than the days of a week. Of course, some of the changes are worth giving nightmares. When a college with four hundred students has more than half of them coming in motorbikes, it gets to a traffic problem that frustrates the neighborhood. When more people are leaving for jobs abroad, it is getting difficult to find basic workers like domestic help, plumbers and carpenters in Kathmandu and the scarcity is pushing prices that are not commensurate to quality.


The politics is of course moving in the right direction though we will continue to encounter bumpy roads. Peace process hopefully will conclude in the right way, at the stipulated time. The Constituent Assembly has been extended for the next six months without the late night ulcer infusing moments, which of course due to ‘mass Alzheimer’ is all forgotten. The people who thought there was a chance for the Constituent Assembly to be dissolved have given up hopes and now right wing parties are regrouping to get to a strategy where the resurrection of the monarchy is not an available option. If he is interested, the ex-King also needs to decide on his strategy of engagement, if at all on the political front, in a new avatar. Yes, people have forgotten about what he did or did not do. India, that is fighting its own domestic political squabbles, has figured out ways to engage without being seen as the Swarovski studded remote control. Nepal should reap the benefits of having the global attention when the two powerful leaders of China and India visit Nepal in a span of the next four months. The Chinese PM will offer sops that will provide a high benchmark for Indian PM to respond to. It is a unique geographical position to be in where you are the center of two global economic superpowers.


The next three years are critical for Nepal as it transitions through a Constituent Assembly writing a new constitution, choosing the structure of state, handling the excessive donor-dollar infused federalism discourse and seeing through the first election under the new constitution. The challenge of course remains that for the past six decades, we are yet to see a Prime Minister complete his full term. Yes, we have forgotten that too.